Minnesota – Hard Times Cafe

So continues our VeganMoFo cross country road trip adventure! Ever feel so incredibly out of place, and yet feel a pull from some nostalgic core about a place? Well, that’s how I felt about Hard Times Cafe the moment I walked in. I’ve never been much of a punk. I lived in a punk house, and we had punk shows in our living room, but I never really fit in. At least aesthetically. Still don’t. Luckily, it didn’t really matter. As we walked a little further into the lounge at the Hard Times Cafe there were a whole bunch of different people in there. From entire families, to college kids, to a mad scientist looking type reading a big book, and then there was us. Canadian tourists fresh out of visiting the Mall of America. Don’t worry about fitting in, come in for the food. I ordered a Jolt Cola when I walked in and took a menu for JC and I to look at. What happens is you look at the menu, write down your order (except for drinks) on a piece of paper (per person – write your name on it), tell the cashier your drink order, and pay for it at the cash register (p.s. they are cash only). Then someone calls your name, and you pick up your food from the back at the kitchen. Service was friendly, and straightforward, and generally better than some of the spots we’ve visited in Toronto that I wont mention. It also didn’t take our orders very…

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Minnesota – When Pizza is Exciting.

We arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota super late at night after driving up from Chicago, via Madison, Wisconsin.  After a frenzied search for a hotel, while parked in the Mall of America parkade (we went to the Arizona level) having a hard time finding wireless signal, we eventually settled in for the night at one of my least favourite hotel chains. So, I’ll say I’m not usually excited about pizza. For me, it often turns into food for the sake of eating something, which I don’t like doing most of the time, but JC actually likes pizza, and found a pizza place I hadn’t heard of with lots of vegan options, and gave them a call: Pizza Luce. So I shrugged and said whatever. Well, I was wrong to not be excited, and probably tired, and hangry at the time, because this pizza was tasty, with a great crust. Another nice thing about Pizza Luce is that they also make their own nut based vegan cheese called Rinotta, that we got on our pizza. It’s not really like cheese, and sort of reminded me a tiny bit of Maniocheese, but it was nice to have a daiya and dairy alternative to try. They do delivery, but JC went and picked up. On their website you can organize things by “vegan or vegan by request” (and also by gluten free or gluten free by request” if that’s your scene) In addition to pizzas they also had hoagies (the Mock Muffeletta sounded interesting),…

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Hello Vegan MoFo 2014! An Intro

VeganMoFo starts today and I’m participating like I have since back when the internet began (okay, JK, more like 2008 or 2009) If you’ve never heard of Vegan MoFo before, it stands for Vegan Month Of Food, and this year, that month is September. I spent last years’ Vegan MoFo blogging about, talking about, and planning my big fat vegan wedding, which culminated in a very satisfying blog giveaway that also included a couple of really lovely wedding crashers. This year is hopefully going to be me sharing stories from our summer honeymoon(y) roadtrip across Canada and the USA. I don’t think it will involve any roadtrip giveaways (sorry.) But it will involve lots of the amazingly wonderful vegan places that exist in North America (and also a lot of the amazing places this couple of vegans saw on a cross country roadtrip.) For people that haven’t ever visited before – Hi! I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of an introduction – I live in Toronto with my partner JC and our three cats Emmie, Kes, and Marmo. I’m originally from Edmonton, Alberta and I’ve been vegan since the late 90’s. I like food – eating it, talking about it, cooking it, growing it. I’m interested in it from a social justice perspective and generally have a focus on food education/empowerment/etc in projects and volunteer work. I’m also interested in migrant labour issues and rights, especially how they exist in the Canadian and Ontario Food System. Plus initiatives that increase the ability of…

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End of #VeganMoFo – Vegan Wedding Edition – Weirdest Giveaway? You’re Invited.

So, as you may know, JC and I are getting married in October. We have a lovely venue booked, the menu has been planned out, the ceremony has been written, invitations have gone out (& RSVPs have even come back), dresses and suits have been purchased and fitted and talked about, flowers have been booked, hair and make up appointments are set, and everything is mostly ready to go. JC and I have been playing with this idea for a while, especially since we do know a few people would like to attend the relative novelty of an entirely vegan wedding even though they don’t particularly know us much beyond this blog, or twitter, or facebook, or just vaguely within the community. So you’re invited. And I’m not kidding. (phew… I’m really not kidding am I?) Please leave a comment and tell us why you’d want to attend, and from those comments, we’ll pick our favourites. Please make sure to write in a valid email address where we can contact you. This is open to anyone awesome 18+ that will find themselves in Toronto, Ontario on October 13, 2013. Dear Friends & Family who are already invited Please know that we absolutely love you, and we’re really glad you’re coming to our wedding. You are really important to us, and that’s why we invited you, and hoped you would join us on our special little day. I hope you don’t feel that having some enthusiastic vegan wedding crashers takes away…

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Vegan MoFo – Wedding Cake

Update: click here to read about our wedding day, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the lovely. Oh Cake. Why has it taken me so long to talk about cake. One of the first decisions we made after getting engaged was who we wanted to make our cake. No, I’m not joking. Maybe this was premature, as new vegan bakeries have actually opened in the time it took us to get close to the wedding, but I still feel good about our decision to go with Sweets from the Earth. JC and I met up with Ilana Kadonoff, owner and chief baker extraordinaire at Sweets from the Earth  (SFTE) a few months after our engagement party, and it was a really positive meeting. She was so nice and helpful, and gave us ideas, and direction when we only had a slight picture in mind. We sampled a variety of Sweets from the Earth cake flavours in the form of tasty SFTE cupcakes  – including some flavours I hadn’t even considered and decided on the flavours that will eventually make up our wedding cake tiers next month. Do go for cake tastings. We were ready to go after one meeting, but you might want to sample some of the other vegan cake options available to you, especially if you live in Toronto. Other vegan and vegan-friendly options in Toronto off the top of my head are Bunner’s Bake Shop, Tori’s Bake Shop, Rashmi’s Bakery, and Vegan Danish Bakery (especially if you’re Danish…

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Soups I Love Thursday (Ten of Them) #VeganMoFo

I’ve spent the last few days wrapped up in a blanket, mostly wanting to eat cereal and soup. JC and I were both sick, and spent some time vegging out in front of the computer and playing World of Warcraft. I’m still feeling that weird sick disconnected feeling but it’s getting better. The sickness combined with a slight dip in the weather has got me thinking of autumn and soup. Soup and autumn. From simple broth based noodle soups, to heavier lentil, sorghum, rice soups, we’ve been souping it. After I posted one of my cereal based breakfast lunches on instagram, a friend sent over a  jar of homemade soup for my sick self to enjoy. Who says social media doesn’t work? (it wouldn’t be me by the way – I win with soup.) So what better than to talk about ten of my favourite vegan soups of all time on this wonderful day 18 of VeganMoFo? This isn’t a top ten list of course, because I can’t create a hierarchy of soup. I’m also including stews in this list. Let’s not argue. It’s better that way. Some of these I’ve made myself. Some of these I’ve eaten elsewhere. French Onion Soup Two Ways. Homemade, and at the Depanneur. This french onion soup from The Depanneur triggered my French Onion Soup obsession during last years’ VeganMoFo. And it continues to this day. I researched and read the history and the culture behind French Onion Soup, please imagine some kind of french…

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Vegan Weddings – Then there are the shoes. VeganMoFo

I’m getting a bit burnt out about weddings lately, I’ll admit it. Our wedding is less than a month away, and it feels like the final countdown music is playing. All urgency I had been feeling is gone, and I’m in this strange stage of acceptance and shrugging. Maybe this is a good thing. Continuing on in the series on Vegan Weddings for Vegan MoFo let’s talk about the shoes! Update: click here to read about our wedding day, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the lovely. But recently something wonderful brightened my day. I got tagged in a photo on instagram. And it was a pair of shoes. A beautiful purple pair of vegan, eco-friendly, fair-labour shoes made by Nicora Johns. These are the shoes I’m planning on wearing when I get married, and while they’ve just been made, I love them already and can’t wait to stick them on my feet. I emailed Stephanie (Nicora) shortly after the kickstarter campaign finished and asked if I could still order shoes… yes, I’m a last minute kind of girl and wasn’t sure if they would even be able to make shoes for me in time, but felt like the risk was worth it. It seemed I had emailed at the perfect moment… it was a day or two before they were starting their first run of shoes. Phew. The experience contacting them was incredibly positive, and while I know it’s only the beginning for them, it felt really nice to…

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Dealing with Caterers – Vegan Weddings – Vegan MoFo 2013

Continuing in my Vegan Wedding theme for Vegan MoFo 2013 – here’s a bit about my experience with caterers, and a few tips. P.S. It’s also less than a month before JC and I get married. Eeeee. update: click here to read about our wedding day, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the lovely. Early in the wedding planning process I started to look at caterers and venues and options for the wedding. To be honest, it was one of the main criteria in the decision making process. You may notices that JC and I love food. Finding a really fantastic restaurant is more than just a night out, it’s a hobby, and we love to share with each other and others, so I’m sure it’s not surprising that it ranked highly. In Toronto some venues have in-house caterers that you’re obligated to use, others will let you use your own caterer with certain stipulations or additional fees, and with others you are completely on your own. Some include service, some don’t. It depends on your budget, and how much you want to spend and how many separate service providers you want to work with. I researched a few around the city and sent emails to a few places that seemed promising, nearly everyone got back to me with wedding package information, and claimed they knew how to cater a vegan wedding (though some glossed over that part), but more inquiries about options and menus usually showed they didn’t really…

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Things I Love Thursday on Friday VeganMoFo –

It’s time for another edition of navelgazing Thursday, except it’s happening on Friday. JC Do you know what I realized this week? (Okay, I already know this) I like JC a lot. Which is good, since we’re getting married in a mere day over a month now. He was away for a few days, and while, it was nice that he was still on a similar timezone, and I’m quite content being by myself (albeit sleepless) – it’s really really great to have him back home. I like that things are coming together for the wedding. Reply cards are being returned. By Mail. Which I LOVE. Frankly, I’m just glad at least some people have received invitations. Every time our mailman comes, I’m curious if another little envelope will appear (subliminal message here: Send back your RSVP cards people!!!) It’s actually kind of funny – some people in Warsaw, Poland have gotten their invites – but my parents in Edmonton, Alberta, have not. Of course, this is in no way a slam against Canada Post, though perhaps it is one against my Parents’ Mail Carrier (as others around the country have already gotten theirs.) I’m simply impatient. Wegetarianski Bigos I love that when I went to the big Polish store on roncy today I stumbled upon something new to me (while at the same time being old to me) and vegan. This is the “Sauerkraut Stew,” it’s also known as bigos, aka “Hunters stew”. And traditionally, it contains meat. But…

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Let’s talk about Suits – Vegan MoFo – Vegan Wedding edition continues.

It seems fitting to follow up my post on Vegan Wedding Dresses from yesterday and talk primarily about Vegan Suits. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never given much thought to suits. Any pant suit or dress suits I’ve had were usually made of polyester, cotton, or rayon (or occasionally linen) but when JC started looking for suits for himself they all seemed to be mostly wool based. When shopping for suits, in addition to the wool, there are a few other things to consider. Like bull-horn or buffalo horn buttons, horse, goat, camel-hair interfacing, felt (wool) fabric, linings, or silk thread. Then there are the silk ties or cummerbunds (if you’re going that route), let’s not even get started on men’s shoes (well… okay, I’ll get started on it, but that’ll be a whole separate post.) So… what’s wrong with wool? Well, I’ll reference The Ethical Man on this one. In summary: Buying wool directly supports cruel practices such as mulesing, castration, tail-docking, and ear-punching. Meanwhile, industrial wool farming is energy-inefficient, land- and water-intensive, and highly pollutive. (read the whole article here – it’s quite comprehensive) There is also a fantastic FAQ on The Discerning Brute. If I can suggest one it is to do the same thing as I recommended with wedding dresses, look for the material you might want your suit made from. Find the 100% cotton suit, find the cotton-poly blend, the rPET, look for a hemp suit (& while you’re at it check out this dapper…

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